Sign of The Economic Times: Centenary College Going From D-I to D-III
Posted Jul 22, 2009 6:10PM By Terrance Harris
If we are wondering just how much the downturn in the economy is affecting mid-majors and lower Division athletic programs all we have to do is look at Centenary College of Louisiana and the move it made this week.
The Board of Trustee for the Shreveport, La. school voted Tuesday to drop down from Division I to Division III as the school finds its way through some financial issues. So while schools like Texas, Ohio State and USC are having to maybe keep a closer count on the use of staples and how many copies are being made at the Xerox machine (USC also having to keep a closer watch on international calls from the team phone
), the financial problems are real at schools like Centenary.
Centenary, with an enrollment of 839 students, currently supports 16 sports but does not play football.
Centenary's move was something the Board of Trustees struggling advised doing during their May 2008 meeting, telling the school it needed to pursue more geographically advantageous conferences. It was apparent then that it would only be a matter of time.
"This is one part of an overall wide-ranging plan which will be implemented by incoming President Dr. David Rowe," Ed Crawford, Board of Trustees Acting Chairman said in a released statemetn. "Centenary must and will restructure its overall strategy to achieve financial and academic stability. We on the Board look forward to working with President Rowe as he helps rebuild an even more firmly established Centenary College as a leading institution of higher education in the South and in the nation."
According to the Associated Press story, Centenary's endowment is down 20 percent and the United Methodist affliliated school is looking at ways to trim $1.5 million from its budget. That meant the athletic department had to take a hit.
And dropping down from Division I means so much more than just a reduction in status. It means fewerCentenary College basketball, if any scholarships, less travel and certainly less staff.
The board voted to leave the Summit League, but the school will remain in Division I and the league for two more years while it scouts out a suitable Division III conference.
But Centenary is far from alone is far from along is in struggling through these difficult economic times. Powerhouse schools like Stanford, Washington, Clemson and Wisconsin are having to make tough cuts in sports programs to make budgets.
It seems odd when you hear about athletic programs like Oklahoma being in financial position to give money to its struggling University or Florida, which last month saw its athletic budget increased to $89 despite 10 percent cuts in every sport except football and men's basketball.